In 2007 I was hired to redesign the Global American website and turn it from a catalog siter full of PDFs into a working B2B quotation site. From the start it was obvious that I would have to rely heavily on open-source platforms to get the job done. One factor was budget restriction, but more importantly, I needed to work with a flexible eCommerce platform that I could crack open and modify it to my needs.
I started with osCommerce, as it was the most robust platform at the time and the PHP was mostly straight foward. I wrote scripts to translate the raw product spreadsheets into a mySQL product database then wrote conversion scripts to convert that information to the osCommerce structure. The import/export functions of osCommerce were certainly not intuitive, complete or sound in any way, but I managed to get every product live on the site. I converted the checkout system into a quote request system.
The osCommerce site was functional and effective, but the category structure created SEO issues that I felt Magento would be better suited to handle. In 2008, I started tinkering with Magento on the side and by the end of the year, I was convinced that we should start making the transition from osCommerce. I set up a local, then remote test environment and began the process of writing scripts to convert the osCommerce database to Magento. It took a while to learn the deep, deep file/folder structure, but once up and running, we never looked back.
The custom attributes in Magento were the perfect tool to showcase Global American’s complex detailed computer specs. I have yet to see another site utilize the attributes to this extent.